Last Updated on December 18, 2022

Drone surveys and aerial images have identified a fresh set of 168 geoglyphs in the Nazca Lines World Heritage Site in the Peruvian desert, thanks to a joined effort between local archaeologists and researches at the Yamagata University in Japan.

Drawings of simple lines, geometrical patterns, and animals such as cats, snakes, orcas, camelids and birds as well as humans have been found at the site, bringing the total number of figures known to 358.

The geoglyphs are thought to date between 100 BC and AD 300. To trace these lines on the ground, the Indigenous peoples of Nazca removed stones rich in iron oxides from the desert surface, in contrast to the lighter-colored crushed stone. The desert’s arid climate made it so that they could be preserved intact to the present day.

The Mystery of the Nazca Lines

The Nazca Desert is a 50-mile-long arid plateau between the cities of Nazca and Palpa in southern Peru, known for its enigmatic geoglyphs: the Nazca Lines, a set of over 800 lines, depicting geometric figures and animal or plant drawings, that were etched into the soil by the Indigenous peoples who lived in this area thousands of years ago. 

The majority of these drawings depict stylized animals including condors, hummingbirds, monkeys, a 180-meter lizard, a 45-meter spider, fish, and whales. The newly found drawings also include around 50 humanoid figures, sometimes with cartoon-like features.

To date, it is not known what the Nazca lines were used for. Researchers speculated they may have been used as a form of worship, possibly carried astronomical significance, or were created as some kind of message to the gods, possibly as part of a ritual to pray for much-needed rain in their arid land.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site

The Nazca Lines were designated as a World Heritage Site in 1994, back when only around 30 geoglyphs had been discovered. By 2019, the number had already risen to around 200, and has already nearly doubled since then, and scientists expect to find many more in the future.

In 2020, Peruvian archaeologist Luis Jaime Castillo told The Guardian he has reasons to believe only 5% of the total number of drawings has been uncovered.

Read also: Sandboarding in Nazca and Cerro Blanco in Peru

Source: Yamagata University logo icon

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